Are we living in a simulation?

If you accept that what we call reality is a simulation, then everybody else is simulated. But the simulation must be real. Which means not everything is a simulation.

It sounds better when you talk about “dreams” or “in your mind” instead of “simulation”, but it’s the same argument, essentially, I reckon.

So, Descartes.

Ergo: you are, this is no fucking simulation, there is no fucking ducking out of our fucking responsibility, for fucks sake.

Let’s deal with this shit.


It just sounds like an argument for a god to me. I wonder how prepared these simulation-surfers are for the author to have no intent, for the whole thing to be constructed for no reason at all.


SMBC is the gift that keeps on giving:


And giving.
And giving.
And giving.
And giving.
And giving.

(You’d think that the writer of SMBC has thought about whether we exist in a simulation once or twice).

Of course, other four-letter comics would never stoop to such pandering.


From the hidden red-button panel on the second of those links:



Simulations tend to repeat themselves. When has that been evident?


It’s too bad if this isn’t a simulation. The best part of SimLife was the Smite button.


Multi love that comment!


What do you think is going on now? Someone got bored with the way things were going and decided to play the fascist deathclown DLC pack.


Overly solipsistic. “Base reality” and “simulation” are human concepts, loaded with assumptions based on our own provincial perspective.

It’s also narcissistic to imagine that we’re created in the image of God. So even if we are “simulated”, what’s to say the simulator is anything like us? It could be alien to the point of being completely incomprehensible. At which point, can we even call it a simulator? Does the idea of being in a simulation have any meaning when we can’t even begin to imagine what the relationship between “our reality” and the simulator is or could mean? Are these concepts even appropriate when trying to talk about things that are by nature indescribable and unknowable?


Or, if it’s about to be solved, just make sure you leave the building before the celebration starts.


I see that you read a certain webcomic.

Girl Genius is one of my faves :smiley:


All I know to say is barring some grand scale way that doesn’t involve destroying ourselves to signal ‘hey we know this is a simulation’ it does not matter even if we are simulated.


My like is for the first half of your comment. I’ve heard some interesting arguments, but I remain unconvinced on the importance of the question.

However, if your ethical system depends on whether you’re living in a simulation, it has much, much deeper problems. As far as anyone has ever been able to test, the laws that govern our universe are deterministic and apply everywhere without fail. Why should morality/responsibility depend on what, if any, (computational?) substrate instantiates those laws? Seems a bit like saying the truth of 2x2=4 depends on whether you use a calculator.

Also, the second half of your comment would seem to invalidate the first. If the existence of moral responsibility depends on whether we are living in a simulation, then answering that question should be one of our species’ absolute highest priorities. Whereas if we say the question is unimportant, that ought to imply that its truth or falsehood has no important consequences.

Whatever metaethics you subscribe to (wherever your ethical principles come from), things that are important are so at least in part because we as sentient, sapient beings find them so. Should my behavior depend on whether I believe I am a simulation, or not? In either case, why? If an important question with profound impacts is undecidable even in principal, something very strange is going on. (Why postulate that what I value depends sensitively on a free variable each of us can set however we want in our own beliefs without contradicting one another? Why not cut the middle man and say we can each choose what to value directly?)

1 Like

Putting this in a totally separate comment because it is unrelated to the above and much less important.

I’m honestly not sure what would count as evidence even in principle. If the Simulators decided to reach in and fiddle with some variables to convince me, or do a self-insert and show off their miraculous powers, or pull put the code for “me” and show me their world, I’d be much more likely to think I was suffering from mental illness than believe them. Mental illness is so overwhelmingly more likely that I don’t know if human minds are capable of believing something with high enough justified confidence to overcome the low probability prior. Analogous argument: suppose you absolutely believe on a gut level you are Jesus. Given that, and the more cerebral knowledge that this is a common delusion, what probability should you rationally assign to you being Jesus?

I’d also suspect any “flaw” in the simualation would probably just look like “huh, physics is a bit different than we thought.” That, or the simulators pause everything and patch it when that happens. Or shut it down and (maybe) start over.


Boy howdie, people who like this idea really like this idea a lot! They like it so much, the odds that it might not have any truth to it seem astronomically against!

And for people who don’t like this idea, or find this idea boring as hell, they have a different kind of advantage: it doesn’t matter if they’re wrong, because who would notice?

My take is, of course you’re living in a simulated reality. It’s called the imagination. It’s the idea that you could escape this simulation somehow by being even more imaginative than usual, that sounds like a crazy hang up. Better to ratchet the argument in the other direction, and go Buddhist.


Would you do anything differently if you knew we were living in a simulation? If so, what and why? if not, why bother with the question?


Betteridge’s Law is wrong. The correct answer to a headline question is "Maybe! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ "


Would you do anything differently if you knew whether the dress was blue or white and gold? If so, what and why? If not, why bother with the question?